Wednesday, June 5, 2013



 Click Here to Download the DAWGS Membership Enrollment Form   

 We've been talking at some length of late about how marine remediation efforts are largely left to  volunteer efforts. Our focus has been on salt water as we  have pushed the CoralBot Project for the development of robotic technology for coral reef repair and the Rozilia Project for water marine debris removal. But there are fish-able waters far from the sea and many of these face conflicting multiple usages.  The DAWGS (Dubois Anglers and Wildlife Group) seem to have the right approach. This link  will take you to a video on a recent project that they coordinated with others that we might call a fish bypass. The DAWGS do their work mostly on the Upper Wind River in Wyoming. This beautiful river is not only a haven for fishermen and kayakers but an important source for irrigation water for agriculture. The irrigation diversion canals can be a death trap for trout. The DAWGS solution was the elegant fish bypass that the link above takes you to. We can really relate to the fact that DAWGS didn't campaign to shut down irrigation or deny agriculture river water, but took an approach that agriculture had a right to water and fish to life and sport fishermen and the supporting industry to economic viability. DAWGS sought a hydrodynamic engineering approach that received the support and funding from all stake holders, multiplying the effectiveness of  DAWGS' s seed money. DAWGS states on their web site that they :
"..maintain a close relationship with professional ,state, and federal sources and encourages cooperation with those entities to secure whenever possible , the maximum efficiency of our funds. We emphasize consensual approaches to watershed management and wildlife conservation issues." As illustrated in the linked video the DAWGs approach gets results.

 By contrast look at what happened in the Missouri River Valley over time. At the dawn of the 20th century the upper Missouri was dry gulch for part of the year and a raging muddy torrent in the spring. Dry gulches and raging torrents don't support much in the way of fish or wild life populations, and don't help flood control, irrigation, or navigation. The U.S.Army Corps of Engineers, Soil Conservation Service, Bureau of Land management and others set about to engineer the upper Missouri into a multi-use water project that would support navigation, flood control, agriculture, and fisheries. Locks and dams were installed and the upper valley morphed from a  seasonally changing dry gulch to muddy torrent land form to a series of fairly stable level "pools" or lakes. Permanent and prolific fish populations established themselves, and eagles began regular nesting. Run off was controlled and towboats and barges began hauling the region's grain to market at prices the railroads couldn't match, reducing rail rates where rail was still utilized. For about 70 years a broad swath of tax payers were quite happy with the project. A few years ago the happy consensus ended and in the view of the millions tax payers in the region and beyond who previously benefited from the Corps multi use management plan..."The damn tree huggers got the river. Drought had come to the Missouri and parts of the upper Mississippi. The Corps management plan for the system called for the release of water from the upper pools to support navigation into the area and as far away as the Mississippi below the mouth of the Missouri. 

 An environmental group sued the Corps on an all or nothing basis and won. The new system plan favors fisheries production primarily. The cost was terrible, possibly ultimately to the fishing interest themselves. Towboat and barge traffic has all but disappeared. Freight rates for getting grain to market are up. Regional farmers, many of them serious conservationist and not adverse at all to fish mitigation on the project have suffered economic loss. Towboat and barge companies have disappeared in some cases, again laying off boatmen and office personnel typically people who support conservation efforts but don't like being driven to economic extinction. People as far away as the Ohio Valley which gets much of its gasoline and heating oil by river tank barge paid higher prices when Missouri River water could not be released to support Mississippi navigation. Tank barges up from the New Orleans refineries had to reduce drafts , carry less cargo, take more trips, burn more fuel to move the season's load.

 No what the all or nothing, people get off the planet, radical environmentalists (AKA "Tree Huggers)  have wrought is this. They are forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the project managers whose mission statement certainly includes flood control and navigation support, but not fisheries management to run an artificial fish haven for the benefit of a small localized sport fishing industry at federal expense. All those beneficiaries of multiple use management, especially navigation a primary mission of the Corps are being made to support the infrastructure for the fish system. The key infrastructure is a system of locks and dams. Locks allow vessels to navigate over dams. But if you can not assure towboat and barge traffic adequate channel depths no one uses the navigation feature. There is no longer any tax payer moral support for the mammoth Missouri River infrastructure in that vast region that used to benefit that included multiple states in the Missouri Valley but also states bordering the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Given present budget and debt woes how much longer will that system that created the beautiful pools now so loved by fishermen be supported? Frankly the present Court mandated Corps management system is not multi- use , doesn't respond to any Corps mission mandates , they are being forced to manage a private reserve for the "Tree Huggers". That situation endangers the pools more than any rare occasional draw down for navigation support ever did.

 They never empty the pools. a draw down isn't that dramatic but a serious draw down for navigation support can dry the areas of emergent vegetation that serve as fish nurseries each season. There is no denial that a draw down can reduce a season's hatching  and effect the shore birds and other wildlife that work the zone of emergent vegetation . But a lot of that effect can be mitigated with some civil engineering such as low head dams that tend to pond such areas after a draw down. The total effects of a major draw down probably can't be totally eliminated but this a region of periodic drought. The natural state was never a totally stable pool. A few beaver dams may have preserved some ponds during the worst of the droughts but they were nothing in comparison to the effect of the lock and dam navigation system. But how long will federal tax payers pay for a "navigation system" that is hostile to navigation? Destroying an existing multi -use system instead of correcting issues as they occur is not  wise conservation, nor wise environmentalism. People are here, they evolved on the planet and have a right to stay . Solution to environmental issues that require bankrupting and running off human populations are not acceptable.  When it comes to supporting the greening of American and the world we back the DAWGs and avoid the "Tree Huggers". When we support non profit green organizations and urge your support we look for the DAWGS , we back the DAWG type organizations, especially those unafraid to reintroduce the term conservation or conservationism. So even if your don'gt live in Wyoming donate to the DAWGs today and lets hope their common sense "wise use" approach can take hold on the Missouri before it is too late and the all or nothing Tree Huggers kill the system that created the pools they so treasure. 

 When you find yourself in Wyoming Check out Marlow's Fly shop:  Remember, friends don't let friends revert to lite spinning tackle in the presence rainbow and brook trout. To everyone in Wyoming, all of Annapolis says hello, population wise I understand we are twin communities, you obviously got the better deal on square miles per capita. 
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